Thursday, May 21, 2015

VersionAsAProduct v3.0 (VaaP v3.0)

Please note that this is not really a third version of this write-up. I suspect it would be more alluring if perceived to be a third version and hence, for all practical purposes, the first iteration is v3. The next one may be v4 (or might just as likely be v7.2).
There was a time when the term ‘product’ referred to physically tangible things that one could touch and feel – a car, a Television set, a food processor or a toaster – and each type of product would have a ‘model’ number. Switching to a newer product meant moving to a new model and tiny engravings on riveted metal tags were of little consequence.  Different models were significantly different in an obvious manner and didn’t require a footnote change-log to be explained.
Not so nowadays. We live a life where products can be hard and tangible, soft or virtual, or a combination of both. And with competition being what it is, the need to create differentiation – real or perceived – determines your market growth and profitability. Enter the new fangled obsession with versions:
  • Creating a new version is the easiest way to get to a New & Improved. A v2 MUST be better than a v1 even if all that has changed is the color on the packaging, and, as any fifth grader with an understanding of how progression of natural numbers work can tell you, this theoretically provides an infinite capacity to churn out ‘newer’ versions as long as you don’t run short of different colors to package your goods in.
  • A higher version is more prestige – oh so much more respect and admiration. As any fan-boy would tell you (but be vague if asked to explain), the respect and awe that a higher version carries is the stuff social superiority is based on. Between two similar phones with exactly the same feature set, the one running OS v5.0 is much superior to the one on v4.0 (and hey, v5.1 edges out v5.0 and v5.1.2 wins the battle hands down!).  
  • Customers can be manipulated. With software products – tools, operating systems, applications etc., with the creation process not as cumbersome as in the manufacturing space – it becomes so much easier to provide a bare-minimum-incremental-feature (if at all) in a v2 and save some more features for a v3 later (paid upgrade, of course!). ‘Essential Security Upgrades’ with ‘Critical Stability Fixes’ are the proverbial knife at the throat to help the decision along and often the only newness in a version change other than, of course, that new next fancy number in an arithmetic sequence which is yours to flaunt for free! Add the word ‘beta’ and you can absolve yourself of any responsibility as well.
  • Numbers are just not enough. Let’s face it, some people are numerically challenged and can potentially resist or be oblivious to the number+1 strategy. This represents an underutilized upgrade-customer base with potential revenues. Thus the need to complement versions with creative code names such that people at a social do can talk words instead of just numbers. Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, Jelly Bean, Lollipop, Unicorn, Werewolf are what you pay for and delight in. And there is a buzz that can be created to overshadow the product itself and get folks interested (how Key Lime Pie lost out to Kit Kat; hey what is Android M going to be? More-of-the-same?)
There is good news for those examining career options though. You could well become a Version Name Expert as long as you have access to a thesaurus and are suitably familiar with numbers. Keep up skilling though and pick up words in exotic foreign languages from time to time. You’d not want to be replaced by a Version Name Expert v2.0.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pledge your eyes for after you die; Donate your eyeballs right now!

Internet monetization demands the-next-click-quick. And the fickle, voyeuristic, interested, intrigued, or just plain perpetually-bored-stiff-with-nothing-to-do nature of the human mind is so ludicrously evident when one looks at what all is being done to catch our attention.
Here is a sample from a typical FB feed-clutter observed over one calendar day:
  • This will just blow your mind away
  • 40 things that you did not know about . #38 nearly made me cry.
  • Never before seen pictures of
  • He was just standing in queue. What he did next will shock you.  
  • This mother was just standing up for her values. What she says next will bring tears to your eyes
  • This made me cry…
  • 15 things that can change the way you look at life forever. #14 made me a different person
  • This is a brilliant quiz. I found #36 very tricky.
  • WTF! Did I just see this right?
  • Shocking Video that made the whole world cry!!!!
  • The most adorable child you’ll ever see…
  • The first dance was epic. Wait till you see what happens next…
If it were not so infuriating, this would be just amazing and nothing short of  phenomenally magical. The amount of research that has gone into putting together THAT ONE TANTALIZING message that can entice one to click further is pure genius. Similar research channelized towards World Hunger or Green Energy could have long solved our dominant global problems. But evidently shortening the Mean-Time-From-EyeBall-To-Click (MTF-ETC) seems to be THE problem to solve instead!
At heart I’m a marketing professional and understand all the drivers of lure. The packaging, the messaging, the catch-lines, and the fancy promises very often overshadow the product and perhaps they need to  - what with the amount of competition existing and the need to get your product noticed. What’s happening now, however, is that there is no product at all!! There is just this clutter mess of nuisance bombarding your online personal space (if there by anything called personal space online any longer), in a bid to record the fact that you visited a page and perhaps glanced over the adverts floating around.  
They say that restraint builds character. How well you manage to stand your ground in the face of temptations is what defines your moral fiber. Don’t drive till you’re 18; don’t drink till you’re able to afford to; don’t gamble your parents’ money; don’t get laid before marriage (some conditions and gender specificity applies)… !
To all those (human or otherwise) polluting my FB feed and getting a kick out of trying to make me click to take me to  a site that adds no value to my existence, and goading me to see #16 as it may change my life, I have news…. I’ m not biting! I’m building character through abstention… I don’t care about #16 and the other fifteen before that, and the fact that I’m not clicking is what gives ME a kick… honestly!
To all those noble folks who've pledged to donate their eyes, please let’s save some miles on the eyeballs while we’re still using them.